The Hel Peninsula (Polish: Półwysep Helski) is a 35-km-long sandy peninsula north of the Polish city of Gdańsk in the Pomorskie voivodeship. The peninsula separates the Bay of Puck on the south with the Baltic Sea on the north. The width from the peninsula varies from 100 meters at its narrowest point to 3 kilometers at the end near the town of Hel, which forms the touristic and cultural centre of the peninsula. The peninsula is a popular destination for summer trips among Polish people. The peninsula attracts people with its beaches, clean air, fishing history and military heritage. Currently around 7,000 people live on the peninsula.
Hel is a town at the end of Hel peninsula and the biggest settlement on the peninsula. It is surrounded by the sea and is a water sport center. The settlement was first mentioned in the early Middle Ages and its inhabitants lived on piracy. In 1266 Hel received its town charter which was affirmed in 1378. From 1454 until the Second Polish Partition in 1793, Hel was a private property of the city of Gdansk. After World War I, Hel was the biggest Polish fishing harbour. It defended itself for one month against the German invaders at the beginning of World War II.
Jastarnia and Jurata
Jastarnia is village and sea resort situated in the middle of the Hel peninsula. It is one of the most popular sea resorts at the Polish coast with interesting nightlife options during summer. The center is along the Ulica Sychty with a lot of bars and pubs. It leads to a big fishing harbour at the south beach. Tourist ships are starting trips to the Bay of Gdańsk there.
Two kilometers east from Jastarnia in the direction of Hel is Jurata. Jurata was a typical fishing village prior to 1928. Jurata is also the name of a Slavic pagan goddess of the Baltic Sea. The village was named after her.
Kuźnica is another seaside resort on the Hel Peninsula. The village is mainly inhabited by Kashubians, a distinctive ethnic group.
Chałupy is a small village on the peninsula and the first one when coming from Władysławowo. The village has a population of around 400 inhabitants, though it can be a lot more during summer when large number of tourists come to visit the area.
- 1 Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport (Polish: Port Lotniczy Gdańsk im. Lecha Wałęsy GDN IATA). The drive to the town of Hel is about 90 kilometers from this airport.
By public transport
There are a few train stations on the Hel Peninsula, one in every village. Connections are operated by Przewozy Regionalne. The journey to Chałupy takes 55 minutes leaving from Gdynia's main train station. The journey to Hel takes a little less than 1,5 hours from Gdynia.
Coming from the mainland they will be in the following order:
- 2 Chałupy train station
- 3 Kuźnica (Hel) train station
- 4 Jastarnia train station
- 5 Jurata train station
- 6 Hel train station — the largest of all and also the final station of the line.
The only way to get to the peninsula by car not using a boat is by droga wojewódzka 216 (DW216), which leads all the way to the town of Hel at the end of the peninsula.
The town of Hel is pretty small so you can get on foot everywhere. The main road is the Ulica Wiejska with a lot of cafes, bars and souvenir shops. Its fine buildings are from the 19th and early 20th century. The south boulevard leads from the old military harbour to the new harbour, where tourist ships leave for a trip on the sea.
If you wish to see more than the town of Hel a good option is to rent a bike. One of the bike renting companies on the peninsula is Ottobike, which has bike rental shops in the town of Hel, Jastarnia, as well as in the town of Władysławowo at the beginning of the peninsula.
- 1 Museum of Fishery (Muzeum Rybołówstwa), Bulwar Nadmorski 2. 10:00-18:00. In a 15th century Gothic St. Peter and Paul Church. From the top of the church tower you have a wonderful view other the city, the beaches and the sea. 10 zł regular, 6 zł reduced.
- 2 Museum of Coastal Defense (Muzeum Obrony Wybrzeża), ul. Helska 16. Very interesting blockhouses, exhibits and a narrow gauge railway. 12 zł regular, 7 zł reduced.
- 3 Seal Sanctuary (Fokarium), Morska 2, ☏ . Part of the Gdańsk University. There are performances for tourists but the goal of the basin is to grow the seals and to set them free. The seals are fed at 11:00 and 14:00. During the summer at 16:30 too. 5 zł.
- 4 Lighthouse (Latarnia Morska), Bałtycka. May-September, daily: 10:00—19:00. 41,5m tall lighthouse open for visitors from May till September. The structure can be climbed. It was a place of severe fighting between the German invaders and Hel defenders in September 1939. There is a beautiful view from the top.
- In the pine forest northwest of the city there are several World War II trenches and bunkers. You can climb right into the bunkers, but look out for the barbed wire strung along the ground in some places.
- 5 Visitation of Blessed Virgin Mary Church (Kościół Rzymskokatolicki pw. Nawiedzenia NMP), Księdza Stefańskiego 32, Jastarnia. The biggest building is a neo-baroque church with a very interesting altar in the shape of a fishing boat.
- 6 Old Fisherman's House (Chata rybacka), Rynkowa 10. Open only in summer. M closed. The building dates back to 1881 and was built by wood that was found by the sea, most likely originating from broken ships. The exhibitions inside show fishermen equipment from the 15th until the 19th century.
- 1 Boards - Windsurfing School, Polna 2AB, Jastarnia, ☏ . Organizes windsurfing courses in the summer. They also rent out equipment.
- Hel Summer Festival (July).
Souvenir shops are along the ulica Wiejska in Hel. Amber is a typical souvenir from the peninsula.
- Fish restaurants and pubs along the ulica Wiejska (all with fried fish and beer):
- Kutter, Wiejska 90.
- Checz Restaurant, Wiejska 107.
- Fiszeria Restaurant, Wiejska 100.
- Maszoperia Restaurant, Wiejska 110.
- Baltyk (ulica Polna 1) is considered to be one of the best fish restaurants on the Hel peninsula.
- U Babli, Sychty 84, ☏ . Popular Italian Restaurant with all the classics, pizza and some Polish dishes. Located in the first floor with covered terrace.
- Urwis House, Sychty 64, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Restaurant with several indoor and outdoor seating areas. Good selection of Polish food, midrange prices for Jastarnia.
Ksiedza Bernarda Szchty is the main street in Jastarnia and has many cafes and bars.
- Pub Armada, Wiejska 83, Hel.
- Pub Captain Morgan, Wiejska 19, Hel.
- [dead link] Pub Stella Maris, Wiejska 89, Hel.
- Lots of rooms and flats for hire.
- Horyzont Villa, Adm. Steyera 14C, Hel. You can take your pets with you.
- 1 Hotel Bliza, Sychty 149, Jastarnia, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 150-200 zł.